I hadn't realised how ingrained cycling was on both sides of my family until recently when my mum sent me a photo of my granddad and great granddad with their club the West Suffolk Wheelers from the 1930’s.
I always knew my Dad’s side of the family were involved in cycling. His father had helped Alan Shorter financially when he started up in the 50’s. Alan ended up building frames for Alf Engers who was one of my Dad’s heroes.
When I started racing in the 80’s I restored my Dad’s old 531 Shorter frame and used it as a training bike.
My father was also good friends with Mick Ward who, in 1958, was the first person to win both 25 and 50 mile Time Trial Championship’s in the same year. They were both members of Haverhill Wheelers and made a couple of trips to France to follow the Tour as far back as the 1960s.
Mick would end up helping me, such are the bonds built riding bikes. I remember staying at his house when I competed in the junior national track championships in 1985. He got in to marathon running and was also a keen artist. My mum still has many of his watercolour paintings at home. They stayed good friends until my father died in 2017 of dementia.
I was reminded of my mum's love of the sport when she came to stay with us recently. Like everyone she was delighted to see Mark Cavendish winning again.
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Almost an expensive month
I was shocked last month when my local mechanic told me that I needed a new 12-speed Campag cassette. Especially as it was only four months old. I had recently fitted a speed link on the chain that was supposedly compatible, but started experiencing problems with the drivetrain.
I ended up buying a new cassette and two new chain joining pins. I tried the pins first to see if they solved the problem. What a relief it was when I took it for a test ride and everything was working as it should be. I sent the cassette back and saved myself £160.
That was a relief as my bike was starting to cost me more to maintain than my work van - a VW Transporter.
I didn’t have time to complete the June challenges, as much as I’d have loved to have done a 130 mile ride. I did a couple of 80-plus mile rides, the furthest I’ve ever ridden. I know someone who completed the ‘chase the sun’ challenge - a 200 mile ride. When I told my wife the first thing she said was "I bet he’s single."
The kids are finishing school for the summer this month so I may yet get the chance to spend a whole day on the bike and get that 130 miles in. I did manage to raise over £300 this month making a total of £1280 for Alzheimer’s Research UK so far.
With just over 3,200 miles ridden so far I'm still well on target for 5,000 miles. And with the scales now dipping just under 13 stone I'm selling some of my cycling clothing that’s getting a bit baggy. And I'm not even thinking of having a cigarette. So things are going pretty well. But I'm still trying to find time for that time trial.
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